Lakers Have No Answers
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images
BOSTON, June 17, 2008 -- When was it over?

It could have been when Kevin Garnett converted a falling-to-the ground, double-clutch, banked-in, and-one shot in the lane with less than a minute to go in the second quarter that put Boston up by 21.

Maybe it was done at halftime when two L.A. fans participating in a knockout competition had to be escorted off the court after the Celtics mascot, Lucky, held on to the ball of one of the guys wearing a Lakers jersey to prevent him from advancing. When the L.A. fan eventually got the ball back and knew he was eliminated, he flung it into the stands and was promptly escorted off the court by Garden security.

It was definitely finished when ESPN analyst Jon Barry was dancing in a club box at the end of the third quarter wearing a Gino t-shirt.

The Celtics led by four points after one quarter, 23 after two, 29 after three and, even though the final margin rested at 39, it felt like the lead was still going up even after the final buzzer sounded, sort of like how coins keep spitting out of the slot machine for a couple minutes after somebody hits the jackpot.

Celtics 131, Lakers 92.


Scanning the boxscore and trying to find something positive in the Lakers’ column (like Lamar Odom’s double-double) is like looking at Spicoli’s Fast Times at Ridgemont High report card, seeing that he got a D in Home Ec. and thinking, “Hey, at least it's not a F.”

There was Kobe Bryant missing fadeaways, Pau Gasol bringing the ball below his waist and getting it stripped by Rajon Rondo time after time, Vlad Rad bricking good looks, Odom coming up empty from the free throw line …

And we haven’t even talked about their defense.

I think Ray Allen is still open in the corner somewhere …

The Lakers allowed Celtics Nation to start celebrating about two hours prematurely, as the guys in purple’s chances of forcing a Game 7 were already severely bruised with them down by three touchdowns and a safety heading into the locker room.

If the Lakers “wet the bed” in Game 4, as Kobe put it, then Game 6 was an excrement far more foul.

L.A. allowed Boston to grab 14 offensive rebounds against a grand total of two by the Lakers. Kobe and Co. also had 19 turnovers, 18 of which were the result of Celtics steals. Add up the damage and Boston had 23 more shot attempts resulting in 39 more points on the scoreboard.

Bryant started off 3-for-3 and had his outside shot going, but ended the game on a 4-for-19 skid, falling in love with 3-pointers and flat jumpers that missed the mark. Kobe finished with 22 points, his second-lowest total in the series.

As far as blowouts go, this was on the Dizzy Gillespie using those balloon-like cheeks of his to extinguish birthday candles level.

To take it further, there hadn’t been a blowout this big in Boston since A Flock of Seagulls hit the hair dressers room backstage before playing live at the old Metro back in August of ‘83.

So, again, when was it over?

After the game, Bryant had no clue.

Reporter: When did you concede that tonight wasn’t your night?

Kobe: “Not sure. I don't know.”

Reporter: How do you see the Lakers’ prospects from here?

Kobe: “I don't know.”

Reporter: Is this the best defense you’ve ever seen?

Kobe: “I don't know, I've seen some pretty stiff ones.”

Reporter: Is there anything other than rebounding and shot blocking your team has to address?

Kobe: “I don't know. I have no idea.”

Reporter: What did Doc Rivers tell you at the end of the game?

Kobe: “Honestly, I don't know (laughing).”

While Kobe didn’t have an explanation for what happened, Lakers coach Phil Jackson – still tied with Red Auerbach at nine titles – might as well have referenced Reebok’s new marketing campaign.

Quite simply, the Lakers got Rondo’d.

“Tonight Rondo was the star,” Jackson said of the second-year point guard’s 21-point, seven-rebound, eight-assist, six-steal outing. “He was the guy out there that made the plays, got the steals, pushed their offense into high drive and created havoc for us.”

That high-octane offense led to 131 Celtics points – the most points the C’s scored and the most points the Lakers gave up all year. The 39-point decision was the largest margin of victory in a Finals clinching game in NBA history.

The Celtics’ Big Three of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce combined for 69 points, 21 rebounds and 16 assists. The Lakers’ Tiny Trio of Bryant, Gasol and Odom produced just 47 points, 21 boards and eight assists.

You could say that the game was a microcosm of the chasm of success between the two franchises. Boston gets ring No. 17 and goes up 9-2 in the 11 times they faced the Lakers in The Finals, while the Lakers all-time mark in the championship round now sits at 14-15.

Forget Kobe's MVP season, forget the No. 1 seed in the West and forget taking out the defending champs. The only thing that will be remembered from Game 6 is a Lakers let down.

"We're disappointed, our fans are disappointed," Jackson said. "I think everybody is disappointed that we didn't get a game out of this, give ourselves a chance."

As the late, great, Los Angeles Times sports writer Jim Murray was wont to write, there hasn’t been domination like this since the Christians vs. the lions.

“Sports is a humbling experience, the sporting world is, especially when you’re playing it professionally,” Odom said. “You win games by 20, you lose games by 20. You win and you lose championships and we were just on the short end of the stick tonight.”

On Tuesday the Lakers lost a championship and, judging by all the Celtics fans who brought their postgame victory cigars with them to the arena in anticipation of puffing clouds of celebretory smoke to meet Red up in the heavens, this one was over before it even started.

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